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German food ministry supports free trade agreement with U.S.

Staff writer |
German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) supports efforts for an extensive free trade agreement with the USA.

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The aim of the negotiations between the EU and the USA on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is to reduce barriers to trade. While tariffs and other trade restrictions are to be cut and removed, the high level of consumer protection in Germany and Europe will remain.

In 2014, German exports to the USA amounted to approximately EUR 96 billion. The USA are thus the second most important destination for German exporters. With approximately EUR 49 billion, the USA are 4th on the list of countries of origin for German imports.

In areas where market access is restricted by red tape, exemption from customs duties and the convergence of administrative requirements could act as motors for growth and employment.

For example, having to conduct a different set of approval and test procedures in order to export to the USA leads to huge effort and expense for the German food industry, which is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises.

Germany and the EU will continue to be able to adopt all regulations they consider necessary and justified to protect their consumers. The agreement is also intended to promote a high level of environmental protection, consumer protection and occupational health and safety in line with the EU acquis and the legislation of the Member States. The BMEL also calls for cooperation in the area of animal welfare.

The EU rules governing the approval and import of genetically modified organisms promote transparency, freedom of choice, and environmental and health protection.

In the USA, genetically modified food is produced and sold without labelling. There are about 68 import licenses for genetically modified agricultural raw materials, food and feed in Europe. Labelling is mandatory if the proportion of authorised genetically modified organisms (GMOs) exceeds 0.9%.

If animals which have been treated with substances that have hormonal effects, or meat from such animals, become a matter of negotiation in respect of the agreement, there will be no relaxation of the hormone ban in the context of the free trade agreement. In the USA, hormones are approved as growth promoters in livestock farming. Using hormones for this purpose in fattening stock is prohibited throughout the EU.

In Germany, hygiene standards regarding the production of meat must be met at every stage of production. Under no circumstances may chemical surface treatments be used to make up for other hygiene deficiencies.

In the USA, poultry may, after slaughter, be sprayed with chlorinated substances. This allows germs such as salmonella or campylobacter bacteria, which are prevalent in fresh poultry, to be killed.

American consumers thus receive a germfree product. In the EU, chlorinated substances are not approved for such purposes.


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